Pennsylvania teen, 19, to make history as the first black woman to ever play in top tier of US polo after discovering it by accident 12 years ago
By Associated Press and Mary Kekatos For Dailymail.com
Published: 14:06 EDT, 29 June 2017 | Updated: 17:55 EDT, 29 June 2017
A Pennsylvania teenager will make history as the first black woman to ever play in the top tier of US polo.
Shariah Harris, 19, from southwest Philadelphia, who plays collegiately at Cornell University in New York, will mount up Friday for the Postage Stamp Farm polo team in the Silver Cup tournament at the Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut.
Brenda Lynn, a spokeswoman for the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, said Shariah will be playing a form of polo known as high-goal polo, which refers to the players’ handicap – or numerical measure of potential ability.
Players are rated on a scale from minus-two to 10. Minus-two indicates a novice player, while a player rated at 10 shows the highest handicap possible.
She said the stares, the inappropriate comments and the whispering that comes with being a black woman playing polo can be discouraging at times, but it won’t stop her from riding.
‘If me playing will mean opportunities to play for other kids like me, then I’m perfectly happy to be breaking down doors,’ Shariah said.
‘I just keep quiet, put on my boots and go out and play.’
Shariah said she would not be playing polo or even riding horses if her mother, Sharmell, had not made a wrong turn while driving in Philadelphia 12 years ago.
She ended up on a dead-end road at a barn and riding ring in Fairmount Park where other minority children were on horses.
It turned out to be the home of the Work to Ride program, a nonprofit organization that teaches urban kids from low-income homes to ride and gets them involved in equestrian events.
To be part of the program, the kids work in the stables, muck out the stalls and groom the horses.
‘As a mother of three children on a single income, I saw it as an opportunity to make their lives better,’ said Sharmell, who ended up moving her family from southwest Philadelphia to Upper Darby, a few miles away.
‘Instead of a soccer mom, I became a barn mom.’